Shaking Tree

Spank House Records, 2005


REVIEW BY: Tammy Childs


Since I used to live in Kansas, it was an honor to review this (formerly) local band's work. Writer Dain Estes has put together a diverse group of artists combining soft rock, unique world beats and everyday pop resulting in his own brand of alternative music.

Although they were unfamiliar (har!) to me, Shaking Tree began playing in the Midwest in 1996 and released this CD this year. Estes said it was recorded under no time constraints, and that laid-back approach definitely paid off.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

With just a small hint of Celtic, "Everywhere" opens the CD, already establishing the world-music influence on these guys. The stringed instruments take control and it becomes a light airy spirit that carries through the rest of the CD. And if I can connect with the lyrics then the music will immediately follow, and the words here remind me of my state: "To walk upon the cold / Cold earth between the dirt and stone / Trembling like shaking trees waiting on the storm." These words sum up exactly how I feel about Kansas -- somewhere between dirt and stone.

"Familiar" is a love song of repentance and the familiarity of trying to succeed in a relationship but not doing enough to make it work, making it "easier to lock the door than be forgiven." Again, the lyrical writing talents of Estes are dominant on the CD, wafting from folk on "Light in August," a rich, warm performance, to pop on "Didn't Say," a forceful song with a slight reminiscent flavor of John Mellencamp.

"One Night" takes the romantic ideal of love and twists it into a song about a one-night affair -- "Just don't count on me/I'll let you down / 'Cause you're only here / 'Cause I'm bored of this town." "Beautiful" is by far the best on the album and it closes the CD, flowing smoothly and incorporating anger and pain underneath a pop and bluegrass combo.

Familiar remains consistent musically and lyrically. Estes is a superb writer, unafraid of exposing himself through his words, and has said in interviews the songs on the radio lack honesty. His words coupled with the band's clever backdrops make this a rarity in the musical world and a release worth examining.

[For more information, visit www.shakingtree.com]

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2005 Tammy Childs and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Spank House Records, and is used for informational purposes only.